For the purposes of time management and convenience, I usually cook big batches of food that I'll consume over a few days. (Thank goodness I don't get sick of leftovers!)
I don't like to use the microwave, so I find myself eating a lot of my food cold. I don't really mind, but it would be nice to have some more hot meals. For things like stew, chili, and soup, obviously I can just reheat them on the stove. But what's the best way to reheat something like, say, baked, bone-in chicken thighs? (Preferably without making them super dry or "cooking" them all over again.) I baked a bunch last night and they were so moist and tender. I can eat them cold, but that's kind of a shame, knowing how good they were hot.
On another topic, how many of you use a microwave on a regular basis? I eat all of my lunches cold (at the office) and am getting kinda sick of it. Not the biggest fan of microwaves, even if I'm reheating in glass (never plastic). It always seems to lose something in flavor and texture.
Microwaving is not unsafe, it's simply a very efficient way of heating things. There's no magic chemistry inherent to microwaves.
However, microwaved food leaves some things to be desired, mostly texture. Otherwise, it's pretty optimal in terms of retaining nutrient quality and avoiding generating nasties.
I use the microwave everyday (although I always use glass or ceramic and never in plastic).
From a flavor/texture/moistness standpoint, it definitely works better on some foods than others. Sometimes I use a toaster oven on foods that don't come out well in the microwave. Maybe a combo cooking method on the chicken thighs? A minute or two in the microwave to heat up the chicken and then a couple minutes on some foil or small cooking sheet in the toaster oven to finish up.
From a health/safety standpoint, I don't think there is an issue with microwave cooking. Stephan Guyenet even suggests it is a "gentle" cooking method (something he recommends).
"Microwaving actually seems to be pretty gentle. It mostly excites water molecules, which means cooking temp doesn't much exceed the boiling point of water. That's why it's tough to brown foods in a microwave. I haven't seen any evidence that microwaving is any harsher than steaming or boiling."
As others have said, a microwave is a perfectly good way to reheat certain kinds of foods, especially those with high water content.
For other things with a crisper or drier texture I use a toaster oven.
Don't microwave and don't own one. I use my Turbo Oven to reheat sometimes, other times I warm up in a slow (250-300 degree) oven. The other day, though, I grilled chicken for dinner, and then lit up the grill with 1/2 the coals to warm it up again for lunch -- came out scrumptious.
At work, I typically either carry things in an insulated container that I've heated at home, or eat it at room temperature. You get used to it over the years. I think it helps that I had kids, and you never get to eat a meal hot or cold -- it always ends up at room temperature by the time you get around to eating it.
One trick to re-warming is NOT to over-heat. You have to get the food temperature up, but you have to be aware and not leave it so long that the re-warming process substantially changes the texture and moisture of the food -- it's a learning curve.
I think eating foods at room temperature is an acquired taste -- and I don't know whether microwaves are unsafe or not, but I DO know that microwaving in plastic is not good (especially since what we KNOW about what off-gasses from plastic is just the tip of the suspected iceberg), so if I -were- to microwave, it would have to be in glass containers, and being sure not to over-heat the food in the process.
One thing I -have- noticed about microwaved food is that, even when it IS hot, it doesn't STAY hot as long as stove-warmed food does... so I think there must be more to the "water excitation" vs. "radiant heating" thing. I've never liked the noisy, humming things, personally, so I'll stick to being a Luddite in this one area. winks
I do not use the microwave and DO NOT HAVE ONE.
Here are my three favorite ways to reheat food:
put it in the oven at 300 F / 150 C for 15-20 minutes - my favorite method. If there is grease on the bottom - great. If not - add a tiny bit of water.
Double boiler - my mom's favorite method. Nothing ever gets burned, and it can stay hot for hours. She uses an old kettle for it.
Put food in a regular pan, put some grease/fat/water on the bottom to prevent it from sticking, and put it on a very very slow burner. It will take at least 20 minutes.
I didn't have a microwave for 10 years and got along just fine, except if I had Chinese food or something, then I was screwed. I generally heated everything up in the oven and got pretty good at timing it right or adding sauce/water to keep things moist.
Then I got married and my husband is Korean and let me tell ya, Koreans loooooove microwaves. I think because it takes so long to make a meal they make enough for 40 people and just freeze and reheat for a month. I've given in, I'm careful what I put in there, it's all good.
Leftovers, usually microwave, but if I have time, I might re-saute them.
Leftover meats that aren't well done, a tin foil hat, in a plate on top of the toaster oven with the toaster oven on. Slow indirect heat won't re-cook a steak much, so it'll be warm-ish without being well-done.
Toaster oven or steaming (mentioned above) are good as well.
I like the microwave too, but you're right for some things it doesn't work well. For a few things (like cooked chicken and quiches) I like them room temperature, so if I was taking it to work, I'd just leave it out til lunch. I think as long as it's cooked it's ok. I've never had any problems with it anyway.
Limited Cooking Options 10 Answers
Toaster oven recommendation? 4 Answers